CUL­TURES

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The in­flux of Ja­panese im­mi­grants in South Amer­ica in the 19th cen­tury im­proved an im­por­tant facet of cul­ture: din­ing. The fu­sion of Ja­panese and Peru­vian cuisines, termed “nikkei,” is a nat­u­ral con­se­quence of Peru’s siz­able Ja­panese pop­u­la­tion, the sec­ond-largest in the con­ti­nent, fol­low­ing Brazil.

Not for noth­ing does the term “fu­sion” fetch looks of un­cer­tainty, as its nu­mer­ous per­mu­ta­tions in the din­ing scene haven’t al­ways been suc­cess­ful. But Nikkei, a new restau­rant in Legazpi Vil­lage, urges you to give it an­other shot. Taste­fully dec­o­rated by Kristine Neri-Mag­turo of Ur­ban Abode, the restau­rant is a min­i­mal­ist space that en­cour­ages in­ti­mate gath­er­ings, and those din­ing solo won’t feel in­tim­i­dated, thanks to the bar seat­ing sur­round­ing the open kitchen, helmed by Ar­gen­tinian chef Chris­tian Ce­jas.

But what Nikkei lacks in grandeur, it makes up for with a tapas-style menu that is in­ven­tive but sim­ple, fa­mil­iar but also dif­fer­ent, all at once. Think of all your Ja­panese fa­vorites—sashimi, sushi rolls and tem­pura—but with a twist. “The cui­sine uses Ja­panese tech­niques with Peru­vian fla­vor,” says Monica Vi­o­lago, a co-owner at Nikkei. “It’s still your sushi and fresh seafood, but with spices and sauces.”

Be­tween the se­lec­tion of sashimi, maki and ni­giri, it ap­pears more Ja­panese than any­thing else, at least at first glance. While the touches of Peru­vian cui­sine seem few, they make a strong im­pact. The ce­viches, or raw seafood mar­i­nated in leche de ti­gre, a sta­ple on Peru­vian menus, are worth a try, par­tic­u­larly the Green Ce­viche (P375), a dish of white fish, oc­to­pus and prawns in wasabi cream, red onions and cilantro, with a neat sprin­kling of sweet potato strings.

Nikkei’s em­pha­sis on fresh seafood—their sashimi se­lec­tion even fea­tures a “catch of the day” op­tion—isn’t eas­ily found in many other restau­rants in the city. That it fea­tures promi­nently on most of their dishes is a pleas­ant and wel­come sur­prise, es­pe­cially on the Causa Ap­pe­tiz­ers (starts at P110), bites of soft mashed potato topped with fish, and on the Tira­di­tos (starts at P140), sashimi sliced Peru­vian-style. We sug­gest ac­com­pa­ny­ing the meal with a Spicy Sake Mar­tini (P250) or a mock­tail, such as the Nikkei Mo­jito (P165), and fin­ish­ing it off with a scoop or three of Nikkei’s house­made ice cream, avail­able in three dis­tinct fla­vors: gin­ger (P98/scoop), sesame (P95/scoop) and wasabi (P95/scoop). NIKKEI, G/F Fra­belle Bldg., Rada St., Legazpi Vil­lage, Makati. Tel. no. 880 0231 Clock­wise from top: a cross-cul­tural feast made up of a Norito

cock­tail (P220); Cha­laquitas

(P110); Salmon

Belly truf­fled tem­pura with ponzu sauce (P395); Green Ce­viche (P375),

as­sorted Causa Ap­pe­tiz­ers (starts

at P110); Salmon

Gin­ger (P160) and Coco (P140) Tira­di­tos; Parme­san Scal­lops (P220);

and Grilled EbiSushiRolls

(P160/5 pieces).

Nikkei’s cui­sine gives us some­thing to love about fu­sion din­ing.

Pro­duced by

MAN­ICA TIGLAO

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